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Future of Al Qa'ida

NCJ Number
Seth G. Jones
Date Published
May 2011
13 pages
This report assesses the geographic and operational strength of al Qa'ida since Osama bin Laden's death, and determines its threat to the U.S. homeland.
Al Qa'ida is largely headquartered along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Its popularity was already declining before bin Laden's death. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that positive views of al Qa'ida significantly declined across the Middle East and Asia between 2001 and 2010. In addition, there has been widespread opposition to al Qa'ida's ideology and tactics among conservative Islamic groups. Public opposition to al Qa'ida, especially from legitimate Muslim religious leaders, must be encouraged and publicized. In addition, Pakistan has been effective in countering militant groups in areas such as Swat and northern parts of the federally administered tribal areas; however, Pakistan continues to support some militant groups, including Lashkar-e Tayyiba and the Haqqani Network. Even more disturbing, both of these groups have a direct, senior-level relationship with some al Qa'ida leaders. These activities have the potential to threaten the U.S. homeland. Any lapse in persistent countermeasures against al Qa'ida and affiliated groups will give them the opportunity to regroup, recruit, and adapt to situational changes as they plan and attempt to implement various types of attacks on the U.S. homeland. Any waning of effort against al Qa'ida will undermine ongoing U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, risk the further destabilization of a nuclear Pakistan, and ultimately threaten the U.S. homeland.